Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports
The question was probably inevitable. NC State had just beaten No. 12 Florida State in Tallahassee, 27-21. Coming up is a Thursday-night showdown with Louisville, who will likely be ranked and features the reigning Heisman Trophy winner in quarterback Lamar Jackson.
In between is Syracuse, who is 2-2 with a home loss to Middle Tennessee State and road loss at LSU on its record. Does this meet the definition of a trap game?
Apparently, head coach Dave Doeren had already heard that before being asked again during his weekly press conference Monday.
“I don’t look it at that way,” Doeren said. “I’m watching Syracuse on film. They’re a really good football team.”
Doeren exuded sincerity when praising the Orange. He noted that former SU coach Scott Shafer was the defensive coordinator at MTSU, which likely made that game personal.
However, what Doeren sees when he watches Syracuse is one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC in junior Eric Dungey. He has completed 63.6 percent of his passes for 1,052 yards and six touchdowns with three picks thus far this year, and he has also rushed for 233 yards and five more scores.
A year ago, before Dungey got hurt in game nine, he had completed 64.8 percent of his pass attempts for 2,679 yards and 15 scores with seven interceptions, and also ran for 293 yards and six touchdowns.
“Take the injury away, he was probably one of the best quarterbacks last year in the ACC,” Doeren said. “Any time you play a team that can score, that has a quarterback who thinks he is that good and is that good, it’s not a trap game at all, and our guys will know that.”
If the aftermath of the emotional win over Florida State is any indication, the team will be receptive to the message. Senior defensive tackle B.J. Hill was heard on the field after the game preaching that the Pack is not done yet.
Doeren said that others were sharing similar sentiments in the locker room.
“When we talked with the players about our team goals, one of the team goals was the 24-hour rule, 1-0 philosophy, win-or-lose,” Doeren said. “One of the things I talked with them about was that goes with success and with failure, and that they can’t get too high or too low.”
That said, it was still difficult not to savor a road win over a ranked opponent that wins 87 percent of its home games.
“When you continue to have to ask guys to keep doing it, keep doing it, it’s going to pay off, it’s going to pay off; it gets hard to have that conversation after a long period of time,” Doeren said. “Once they finally feel it, and they’re like, ‘We did it, he was right, we can see it,' it completely changes things.”
• Senior corner Mike Stevens was expected to play against Florida State, but after going through pregame warm-ups in uniform, he was not dressed for the opening kick and missed his fourth straight contest.
“The plan is just like last week, to practice him and if he feels like he is ready to roll, then we’re going to play him,” Doeren said. “Medically he’s fine, he’s just got to get his stamina back.”
Redshirt junior safety Dexter Wright is still questionable as he recovers from a groin injury sustained in the opener against South Carolina.
“He practiced last Tuesday, and Wednesday he couldn’t go,” Doeren said. “We’ll have to see where he’s at.”
• Saturday will be Military Appreciation Day at Carter-Finley Stadium, and Doeren announced that the Pack will be wearing camouflage uniforms in honor of the occasion.
Doeren’s father, father-in-law and grandparents all served in the military in wartime, and the game has personal meaning to him.
“I think it’ll be a great environment,” Doeren said. “I hope they come out to support our guys the way that they should — and I expect them to — and I also hope they come out to support our military the way they should. I just think this is one of my favorite games of the year at Carter-Finley."
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